Ilkeston has finally brushed off its title as one of the biggest towns in Britain without a train station – as the first passenger train for almost half a century pulled in to the new stop.
Around 300 people were in place as the Northern Rail train pulled into the station shortly after its expected 9.45am arrival. The delay was believed to be caused by photograph opportunities at Langley Mill where a number of local dignitaries and residents got on the historic train.
Jay Tilford, 71, said the new station will be a good thing for the town. “I remember when the old station was here – the platforms are in the exact same spot.
“I understand why it closed but it is a good thing to have it back. I won’t use it so much because I have a car and a free bus pass, but a lot of people will use it.”
Scot Cook, 35, from Heanor, was one of the passengers on the train as it made its historic journey.
“It’s about time really,” said Mr Cook, who is a railway worker. “I’ll use it to commute and visit the family. There are a lot of the family who live in Ilkeston. It looks like a nice, new station.”
Arnold resident Jed Thomas, a council worker, travelled from his home to see the historic moment.
He added: “There are lots of people here – I’m quite surprised at how many people have come down but it just goes to show how many people are interested. They even doubled the size of the train that normally comes along this route.”
Erewash MP Maggie Throup said the new train station would not only give people an extra form of transport to get to Nottingham, but also bring outward investment to the area.
“It’s fantastic. It was really exciting being on the first train coming into the new station. Everyone was excited as they were getting on in Langley Mill. I also got to see Ilkeston from a different perspective.
“It is a beautiful part of the country and we have some lovely walks and historical buildings and this makes it easier for people to come and visit. It also links up the area for people to live and commute to Nottingham, as well as helping businesses who may want to start up here.”
The services will be run by East Midlands Trains and Northern Rail, who are taking on the bus companies with a competitive pricing structure.
The trains will run every hour and a return costs £5.30.
Lawrence Bowman, commercial director for East Midlands Trains, said: “You can get a return to Nottingham for just over a fiver so it is competitive with bus fares, and only takes 15 minutes.
“The opening was fantastic. There were about 300 people here which shows that this is something the people wanted.”
Paul Barnfield, regional director for Northern Rail, added: “This is a quality station for the people of Ilkeston and to see so many members of the community here is fantastic. Hopefully, it can not just improve travel for the people of Ilkeston but also improve economic growth in the area.”